Angkor Wat

Exterior view of Angkor Wat at sunrise

I’ve visited several places which helped me get a grip on the word: “massive”; I walked on the deck of an aircraft carrier, climbed a mountain, and watched a 58-storey building constructed downtown. And, especially considering that Angkor Wat is man-made, built by hand 900 years ago, Angkor Wat is massive.

Angkor Wat at sunrise

Angkor Wat at sunrise

Located in Cambodia, Angkor Wat is the world’s largest religious monument. It’s spread over 820,000 square metres (203 acres) and surrounded by an outer wall and moat 3.6 kilometres (2.2 miles) long. We planned our visit while staying in Siem Reap, and hired a guide. Good move.

We visited on an early spring day, but by midday the temperature was still 30 degrees Celsius (85 degrees Fahrenheit). Our cheerful guide was great at helping us not overdo it and stay in the shade when we could. We brought lots of water, and kept an easy pace.

Pregnant Cambodian woman with sleeping child

A Cambodian child’s afternoon siesta

One of the highlights was watching the sun rise over the temple, which was reflected in pond in front of us. Then, as we got closer, we noticed bas-reliefs carved into the temple walls. Buddhist statues were located throughout.

Bas-reliefs

Bas-reliefs at Angkor Wat

The temple is in pretty good shape. Apparently, the moat protected it from being completely taken over by the jungle. There’s a lot of ongoing work, some areas are closed off and scaffolding set up for workers to work on.

Exterior view of entrance to Angkor Wat

Entrance to Angkor Wat

Hire a good guide, prepare for a long day of exploring, and make sure you bring extra batteries and media for your camera. And take the time to sit quietly in a less busy part of the extensive grounds, to take it all in.

Angkor Wat central structure

Angkor Wat central structure